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04
"The Importance Of Saying No"
October 4, 2012

Without trying to sound like Dr. Phil, I want to emphasize the utter need of saying “no” to things that are not absolutely vital for our time and energy. They may very well be matters that are legitimate and even demanding for someone else, but not for us. There is a wisdom and personal safeguard in saying no to certain requests from others even at the risk of offending them or causing deep disappointment. If they pressure you and heap on the guilt trip, it is definitely not of the Lord. Anything we do out of mental duress or unsanctified obligation, especially when our heart is not in it, is a man-generated burden that you should avoid. If you continually say “yes” to everyone and everything, it will eventually destroy you through prolonged stress which leads to burnout. I ask you—where is the “abundant life” in that?

I remember over thirty years ago, as a new believer in Christ, being advised by a well intentioned older Christian to say “yes” to everything I was asked by the pastor of the church. Being young and enthusiastic in my new life of faith, I complied with great zeal which down the road became laborious and my labours of love for the Lord turned to mere works done in a wrong attitude. No one told me the importance of saying “no”. That was years ago, and I have learned since that it’s okay to deny a favour, a request, and even an expectation on the part of others. I have said “no” to many things that at one time, I would have reluctantly agreed to. How many “ministry” events do we accept that God has not ordered or arranged for us? How much of our time and physical strength do we forfeit in matters that the Lord has nothing to do with? How can you tell? When they are done with no peace and no joy. These are man-made burdens placed on us by insensitive and selfish people. We don’t have to visit everyone in the hospital. We don’t have to contribute to every charity that knocks on our door. We don’t have to volunteer for every position that becomes available. We are not the only labourers in God’s field and if we don’t do it, someone else will whom He has called for that particular work. God is not obligated to bless anything that He is not in, even when it is done in His name.

Now in case someone reading this takes this blog as a license to do nothing, to not be committed to anything that is asked of them, to not feel obliged to offer any needed support or help, I must add the other side of this truth. There is a tension between doing the enjoyable things we love which are really no burden whatsoever, and doing unpleasant things that may require somewhat of a sacrifice and extra effort on our part; perhaps even our hard-earned money as well as our precious time, energy, sleep and leisure. It may be a matter of plain duty in doing the right thing, especially when it is inconvenient and will definitely cost us something. That scenario is a matter that requires prayer for clear direction from the Lord and from His Word. Some difficult demands and urgent requests can be in actuality arranged by God to test our reaction, especially when there nothing in it for us—no payback, no glory and no recognition. That is service that is rendered unto the Lord for His glory alone.

Fortunately for our sake, our Father has provided divine guidance and implicit instructions for His children to follow, and if we somehow miss His ordained plan and allow even well meaning friends to lead us down the wrong path or through an  incorrect door, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Apollos is a good example of a Christian leader who stood firm on the will of God, as he knew it, in spite of even Paul’s earnest plea for his needed assistance to the Corinthian church., Even though Paul was a close friend and companion in the ministry, Apollos refused to budge and said “no” to a man of greater spiritual authority. In I Corinthians 16:12, Paul reports, “As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time…”. Paul “greatly desired” his friend’s assistance but it was denied. Apollos was accountable to a higher Authority than Paul, and for that reason alone, he understood the importance of saying “no”.  When your spiritual and physical welfare is being exploited, whether by caring friends or manipulative people, learn to say “no” before you snap under the strain and then rest in God’s love and approval as you go about your Father’s business.

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